Q: Hey, Roadtrip Nation Design Team! My son/daughter/niece/nephew/friend is graduating from design school, and I have no idea what to get him/her as a gift. Whatever shall I do?
A: Don’t fret—we’re here to help! We (RTN designers Tawny and Monique) put together a guide of our favorite design-inspired gifts and resources to help your designer-to-be get on his or her feet in the design community—and get inspired! Plus, these gifts don’t have to be for a design-minded grad; we think they’d be great gifts for just about anyone.
Moleskine : I pretty much use Moleskine sketchbooks for everything, and every time I go to the art store, I always see new Moleskine covers designed from different artists. You can also find a lot of the designed Moleskines featured on their site. I love their design with the nifty pocket in the back panel as well as all the different sizes and styles. This is a perfect gift for your favorite doodler!
Enormous Champion: I love these script and halftone cards designed by Brooklyn-based Enormous Champion. These would be perfect to write that special note to a loved one…I know I’d love to get one!
Society 6: One of my favorite hand letterers is Chris Piascik. He’s incredibly funny, and his skills are incredible. He’s got great color choices and a huge variety of drawing types to choose from. I found his Society 6 shop through his website, where he posts a drawing a day! It’s insane how much work this dude puts out. Peep this awesome print:
You can pretty much spend hours on his site trying to pick your favorite print to purchase for your wall…they’re all so damn good! Plus, what I like about Society 6 is that it allows you to take your art and translate it into many mediums without a ton of work…such a rad concept for artists.
Also, Jon Contino is using Society 6 to sell his art prints. One last one:
Colosseotype: We interviewed Cameron Moll on our Indie Roadtrip to San Francisco for the How Interactive Design Conference in November in 2011, and he has some amazing letterpress posters. I would ADORE one of these bad boys framed and hung up on my wall!
Ork Posters: Also, these city posters are pretty popular these days. Not sure where I’ve seen them before, but I wouldn’t mind getting one of these silkscreened beauts for my walls, either.
Scripts: Elegant Lettering from Design’s Golden Age by Steven Heller and Louise Fili
I love script fonts. Really, I can’t get enough. This book features Steven and Louise’s vast collection of script fonts in advertising, street signs, invitations, type-specimen books, and personal letters.
Quarterly Co.: This is a subscription service—for $25 you get a rad package from someone in the design industry you admire! Each mailing has a unique hashtag (e.g. #YAY02), so you can follow its progress on Twitter. Click here to buy a gift subscription!
Yellow Owl Workshop: Yellow Owl Workshop specializes in limited-edition paper goods and stamp kits. I got to see a really cool demo by the owner, Christine Schmidt, on how easy it is to make your own patterns from your stamps! Here is their book and kit with everything you need to do this yourself, all in one awesome package!
Send your grad these free, helpful resources to enrich their design portfolios:
Typekit: The free account on Typekit gives you access to hundreds of fonts to use on your website! Add a line of code to and choose from hundreds of web fonts—simple, bulletproof, standards compliant, accessible, and totally legal.
Inker Linker: Find an awesome printer. A great site for finding a print shop that specializes in letterpress, offset, digital, screen printing, or engraving services. They also feature shops that offer print workshops or the ability to rent time on a press to do your own projects! Our very own Michelle Dreher’s (who appeared in Roadtrip Nation: Season Seven) letterpress shop is also listed as a resource.
Lost Type Co-Op: This site provides unique and quality fonts based on a pay-what-you-want model. All designers get 100 percent of the donations their font receives.
Best wishes, and happy graduation!
The Roadtrip Nation Design Team